I can’t be responsible for Abuga Pele’s failure - Humado appeals to court (Front)
A former Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Clement K. Humado, says he cannot be held responsible for the failure of the former National Coordinator of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) to perform due diligence on the payment of $522,000 to the Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI).He said he approved of the payment of the funds to MDPI based on the claims and submissions made by Abuga Pele, saying as a minister, he depended and took decisions based on tasks assigned to his subordinates.
“I cannot be held responsible for a claim that is deceptive,” he told the Fast Track High Court hearing the case in which a representative of Goodwill International Ghana (GIG), Philip Akpeena Assibit, is standing trial for defrauding the government to the tune of GH¢4.1 million on the pretext of securing a $65-million World Bank facility.
Standing trial with Assibit is Pele, the former National Co-ordinator of GYEEDA.
Mr Humado, who was under cross-examination by Mr Carl Adongo, counsel for Pele, said his decision to sign the document ordering the payment was based on facts, including his trust in Pele, with whom he had worked as a Member of Parliament from 2005 to 2009, and also that he (Mr Humado) had been in office for two months.
Payment plan for GYEEDAWhen asked whether he approved of a payment plan that included the salaries of employees of the programme, Mr Humado replied in the affirmative, but insisted that it did not mean that the special project could be done without due diligence.
Mr Adongo pointed out to the former minister that Assibit worked based on instructions from the ministry, which Mr Humado headed, for which reason Assibit could not be blamed for the payment of the $522,000, adding that GYEEDA could not do anything without the minister’s approval.
Is GYEEDA autonomous?But Mr Humado dismissed the claim and stated that GYEEDA was a semi-autonomous body that sought advice from the ministry when it wanted and alleged that there had been occasions when the agency had acted without recourse to the ministry.
When Mr Adongo insisted that the agency was not autonomous, the former minister said, “I said almost autonomous; because there was no law backing it and it also did not have a board to supervise it. When I was appointed by President Mills, he asked me to exercise responsibility over it.”
When Mr Humado was shown documents that indicated that he had given the go ahead to the chief director of the ministry to proceed with the order of payment of the funds, he insisted that the go ahead was subject to due diligence on the part of the chief director and Pele.
Limit of GYEEDA spendingAsked if the GYEEDA management had a financial threshold beyond which it could not take a decision, the former minister agreed and said the agency needed to seek approval from the ministry for items worth more than GH¢20,000.
He, however, maintained that at all material moments it was Pele who prepared all cheques for payments.
To that, Mr Adongo stated that it was the responsibility of the minister to check the claims made before payment of the money.
That did not sit well with Mr Humado, who said, “As a minister, I could not go down to do the work of my subordinates. I expected due diligence from them before seeking approval.”
That drew a loud laughter from the people in the court.
He added that apart from the documents available to him, he also sought verbal verification from Pele before taking the decision to approve the payment for work done, which the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) later found to be untrue.
Judge seeks clarificationThe Presiding Judge, Mrs Justice Afia Asare-Botwe, asked whether it was the evidence of Mr Humado that the agency had a limit to its spending power.
Mr Humado confirmed that the limit was GH¢20,000.
Asked whether Pele had ever gone overboard that limit, he said no.
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